Dark Matter Book Review

Recently while traveling for work, I read a book by Blake Crouch (also the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy that the recent TV show was based off) and so here is my Dark Matter Book Review. I don’t want to spoil too much, but generally I can reveal it is about a man who is forced to explore the alternate path of life not taken. The description copy reads

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I had a little impatience since I knew that was the setup for it to happen and it takes a couple chapters for the character, who is supposed to be smart and a background in science, but at the beginning seemed more like the average joe. He didn’t seem to do a lot of analysis, just guesses and gut reacts at first, and we’re left following along, thinking more critically then he is. Finally there is a snapping point which causes him to process and plan more proactively, and I think this is when the book hit its stride as he finally catches up to the audience of more actively evaluating his situation and trying to do something about it.

It is an interesting ride – and there is one twist I was not expecting that adds additional questions. It’s not a slow book – honestly in that regard it almost feels ready made to drop into a movie in it’s pacing that keeps you moving along. In fact, Blake is currently writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures for a movie version I heard. And, there’s some cursory sci-fi explanation that it doesn’t matter if you really understand or not but is there to make it all sound plausible enough.

The only slight disappointment I had was I expected the protagonist to explore the philosophical questions a little more deeply. Yet, I was also happy that it didn’t get bogged down into long discourse that belabors a point. The fact it at least acknowledges the thought provoking questions instead of just being straight action, and that the author takes time to add small anecdotes for the hero to reminisce (this helps to firmly establish his motivation that carries him through all that he must experience), both of these help make the protagonist someone anyone can relate to and root for.

It was great reading for travel since the short chapters gave me good break points but also kept me engrossed. It’s an intriguing premise and journey that the book takes you on as a reader, and even if it is not perfect it is worth it as both a thriller to entertain you, as well as opening you up to consider and ponder some of those questions about life paths even after you finish the read.

Disclosure: This book was provided to me as part of the Blogging for Books program, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.


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